With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, learning institutions had to be closed. In the quest to try to salvage students’ academic years, online learning was adopted in schools. Online learning has been existent for a while though it was not available in all learning institutions.
It was previously used for distance learning by students who could not access the school physically. However, the pandemic brought out the importance of online learning even for students who could access the learning institutions.
Online learning is engaging students in learning through recorded or written information or real-time via the internet. To facilitate online learning, virtual classroom software is used. The software enables teachers or tutors to deliver distance learning to students. This is done through a combination of features offered in the software.
Choosing good virtual classroom software can be a daunting task due to the influx of available products in the market. GoSchooler is one such software which offers the complete package when it comes to school management software. Choosing the right software can be the difference between a good school and a great school.
To help in choosing the best virtual classroom software, we have compiled the main features that you should look for.
1. Real-Time HD Web Conferencing
This should be the first feature to look for in virtual classroom software. Unlike social group calls, a class session cannot be held using audio-only. An audio-only session will not guarantee any results in terms of academic progress for the students.
Also, learning will not be efficient if the teacher uses pre recorded videos and lectures only. Online learning has to integrate real-time interaction to be an efficient teaching method.
Virtual classroom software should be able to support real-time high-definition video and audio conferencing. Real-time conferencing will ensure that students concentrate and take part in the class session. It will also allow the students to pose any questions to the teacher in real-time.
2. The Number of Participants Allowed
Various virtual classroom software allow different numbers of real-time participants. Most software offer a free package alongside some other packages. The free plan always has a limit on the number of participants allowed per session.
Some software also limits the time duration of each virtual classroom session. The paid plans offered by the virtual classroom software companies increase the number of students allowed per session. They also take down the duration limit.
Before choosing a virtual classroom software, you should assess the institution’s needs. Analyze the number of students a virtual session will have and the time duration of the sessions. This will allow you to choose software that perfectly fits the school’s needs.
3. Video Recording
Just like in a physical class, a student might miss a class session due to various reasons. When a student misses a lesson, the teacher cannot repeat the whole session to ensure that the student who missed it is up to par with the others. This is where the server-side video recording feature comes in handy.
Teachers can record footage of the virtual classroom session. This footage will then help a student who had missed the lesson to catch up. Some students also use the footage while reading to go through concepts again to ensure that they understand.
This flexibility of online learning played a part in getting some students to prefer online virtual classes over in-person class sessions. Most education analysts refer to online learning as the future of education because of such advantages.
Some virtual classroom software offer cloud storage services as an added feature. Cloud storage is necessary for saving the recorded sessions and other educational material.
4. Meeting Controls for the Teacher
A virtual classroom is no different from the conventional in-person classroom. In this case, the host is the teacher who should manage the online class session to ensure the smooth running of the class session. A poorly managed class session will affect the overall learning experience of the students.
The virtual classroom software should have controls that will allow the teacher to limit functionality for any student. The most common control used in virtual classrooms is the master mute switch for all users that the teacher can use to prevent noise in the class session.
Other controls the software should have are interactive tools such as the capability to raise a hand. This feature allows the teacher to easily coordinate the class by allowing students to ask questions each at their own time and not all at a go.
5. Grid View
A virtual class session is very different from the regular webinar meetings, for example, company conference calls. A virtual classroom should allow the teacher to see every student. This will help the teacher understand how the learning session is going based on the students’ visual cues.
Grid view is an arrangement that allows every student present in the virtual session to connect their webcam and microphone. With this, the teacher can then be able to see all students.
Due to screen ratios and many students in the virtual class, the software should allow the teacher to select different students and see them in real-time.
6. Good Device Compatibility
Any learning institution consists of a wide array of students from various backgrounds and walks of life. To ensure that no student feels left out or is disadvantaged by having to purchase a new device for online learning, you should choose a virtual class software that supports a wide array of devices.
Good virtual classroom software should have various application builds for the different devices and device operating systems. There are three major platforms that one should consider when choosing virtual classroom software. These platforms are Android, IOS, and Windows. These three are the most common platforms used globally.
In this era of computing, the software is as good as its security features. Good virtual classroom software should have privacy features that prevent outsiders from joining a class session. This is achieved through the use of private meetings that require passwords to join.
However, the optimum virtual classroom software will allow students to join a session from their learning management system. This ensures that any person who joins a session has legal access to the learning management system and is therefore in class legally.
As an extra feature, the virtual classroom software should also allow the users to access learning materials or data based on their specific access privileges.
When deciding which virtual classroom software to use, you have to remember that what works best for another institution may not be the best for you too. Needs vary from institution to institution. Getting software that addresses your specific needs is what constitutes the perfect software.
With the knowledge of the features listed above, you will be able to work your way around the congested market and choose the perfect virtual classroom software. Also Read how does technology save time in education.